THE NEWS:

The DC Health (formerly known as the Department of Health) reports that two D.C. residents are being tested for the coronavirus after showing symptoms of the novel virus that originated in Wuhan, China. Already one person in the District underwent an investigation but tested negative.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed five cases in the U.S., with a majority testing positive for the coronavirus in western states. Still, nationwide, 73 cases are pending an investigation. 

This is a respiratory-borne illness, so anyone who has contracted the virus almost certainly got it when interacting with someone else who has it, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci tells NPR. Where did the virus originally come from? The leading hypothesis is that it spread to humans from animals at a seafood market in Wuhan.  

Since the outbreak was announced on Dec. 31, coronavirus has spread throughout China and a few cases have popped up in at least a dozen other countries. As of Wednesday, 132 people have died from the mysterious new virus, according to Chinese officials. China’s National Health Commission reports the number of confirmed cases increased by 25 percent between Tuesday and Wednesday, landing at 5,974. 

There’s a lot we don’t know about the new coronavirus (also called 2019-nCoV)—like, is this the next pandemic? Right now, scientists are making informed guesses. Here’s a handy Vox explainer on what we do know about how contagious and how deadly 2019-nCoV is.    

Take comfort in knowing the U.S. is taking various precautions. Fauci says the National Institutes of Health is already working on a vaccine, though it’s at least a year away. Meanwhile, there are travel restrictions in place. American University, for example, is prohibiting travel to China and students currently studying abroad in the country have been told to return home immediately, amid the outbreak.  

A word of advice as this continues to unfold: Wash your hands.

—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? Email agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)  

CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez:

  • D.C. police officers can only handcuff suspects 12 and under if they present a danger to themselves or others, per new guidance released by chief. [DCist]

  • Limited liability corporations operating in D.C. now need to disclose more details about their ownership structures to the Bowser administration after a consumer-protection law that passed more than a year agofinally takes effect. [BizJournals, Twitter

  • Report: D.C.’s history of exploitation and discrimination led to present-day inequities in employment and income opportunities between black and white residents. [DCFPI]

  • Post clears reporter suspended over Kobe Bryant tweets, doesn’t apologize. [Washiontonian]  

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Ward 2 residents groan and grin at Jack Evans’ recent announcement. [Post]

  • Prince George’s County cop charged in fatal shooting of handcuffed man. [WAMU, WTOP]

  • Sports betting is on the table in Virginia. [WBJ]

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser says her daughter will probably attend Shepherd Elementary School. [Post]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes(tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com

Y&H is out of the office.

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall(tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • D.C. trio Too Free’s upcoming album takes the group to groovy new electronic heights. [WCP]

  • New book Mangy Curs and Stoned Horses recounts the early history of animal control in D.C. [Washingtonian]

  • A group of D.C. Girl Scouts want to make the endangered little brown bat the city’s official mammal. [WAMU]

  • Artist and Baltimore native Paige Hernandez discusses The Royale, the play based on African American boxing history that she’s directing, set to open tomorrow at 1st Stage. [DC Metro Theater Arts]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Kristi Toliver has been a coaching pioneer, working with the Wizards while still being an active WNBA player. Now, because of her unique situation, WNBA players like her will be able to get paid a competitive salary while coaching in the NBA. [Bullets Forever]

  • Two former Washington NFL players are on the roster for the DC Defenders of the XFL. [NBC Sports Washington]

  • The D.C. area is well represented in the U.S. women’s national team’s Olympic qualifying roster with Washington Spirit stars Rose Lavelleand Andi Sullivan, Virginia native Ali Krieger, and D.C. resident Kelley O’Hara. [U.S. Soccer]

  • Nine people died on Sunday in a helicopter crash that claimed the life of Kobe Bryant. Washington Post columnist Kevin Blackistone explores what the collective reaction to the tragedy and focus on Bryant reveals about our society and how it reminds us that no one is invincible. [Post]

MAKE PLANS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full To Do This Week newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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